Our Custom Songs hoping to be a popular choice for families separated by pandemic
CAMAS — The days of radio song requests dedicated to loved ones have faded from our culture, but the band Fox and Bones thinks they may be able to resurrect the spirit of such gestures with a new kind of Christmas present.
It’s called a Song-Gram. It’s a customized cover of someone’s favorite song dedicated and performed for them by Fox and Bones via Zoom or video. It’s becoming known as the gift that’s showing love and connecting people in ways they never expected, during a time when connection is all too rare.
The Our Custom Song project crafted by the Camas-based folk pop duo has been slowly but surely ramping up since September by creating two more full-scale custom songs and more than two-dozen Song-Grams.
“Music has such deep roots within so many of us about memories that it’s attached to, and emotions and time periods in our life,” said Sarah Vitort, one half of Fox and Bones. “Maybe a band that you don’t even know, covering a song dedicated to you that is meaningful to you already, there’s just something about that that’s really special.”
Sarah, along with Scott Gilmore, make Fox and Bones and have over two decades of collective music and song writing experience. They have dropped two full albums along with an EP and many singles, and currently have their next album coming in April 2021.
The full-scale custom songs are the true artistic gold of Our Custom Song, but at $3,000 to $5,000, are not as common as the more affordable Song-Grams which are $250. With a new wave of pandemic restrictions and families divided during the holidays, Sarah and Scott are hoping more people submit requests as gifts.
“I think everybody should do it,” said Michelle Geil, who commissioned a Song-Gram for her husband. “It’s just a win-win and keeps independent artists going, and it’s really a gift that they can keep as well. It’s not a one time thing, they could look it up and re-listen to it again and share it with their friends and family.”
Since starting the Song-Grams, Sarah and Scott have covered the whole gamut, from Green Day to Dolly Parton. Each time the pair does a virtual performance, they rehearse the selected song and craft a happy medium between sounding just like the original and putting their own spin on it.
Depending on the song and situation, they have done both pre-recorded video performances and live ones via Zoom. Michelle’s song for her husband, a cover of a Rod Stewart hit, was the latter, while Meredith Bedrick received a USB stick with a surprise on her birthday.
“I put it in my computer and Scott and Sarah’s faces popped up on the screen and it was just so thoughtful and I was just tearing up,” Meredith said. “That’s always fun to hear like an acoustic melody of one of your favorite songs. It just touched me so much that my husband went and did that and went that little extra step and reached out to them.”
Sarah and Scott began Our Custom Song as a way to keep creating and making income during the pandemic which has all but killed concert gigs. Though they are more rare right now, the more involved full-scale custom acoustic songs the two have done since the summer have been deep dives.
One features a wife and school teacher whose husband has always said she must have a stained glass window in heaven for her because of her selfless lifestyle. For her birthday, Fox and Bones crafted an original acoustic song detailing everything her husband said he sees her do for others each day.
The other song the duo was commissioned to write commemorated the life of a man who survived the concentration camps of the Nazis during the Holocaust. His daughter-in-law chose him as the subject of her song since he had recently passed and meant so much to the family.
“Doing a song for someone who is deceased and trying to do them justice, but also somebody who survived such atrocities, without knowing his experiences, was a real good challenge for us,” Sarah said. “I don’t even know the guy and I tear up every time I hear it. That one was just one that was really rewarding for us to be able to successfully tell someone’s story that had such a complicated and deeply traumatic life.”
Sarah explained that though the process of getting Our Custom Song going could be seen as a slow one, she believes it will only grow and gain greater traction. The two have thoroughly enjoyed the high level of detail they have been able to give to their first clients and new fans, she said.
“This is something we absolutely plan on continuing to do even after the pandemic is over,” she said. “Every single one that we’ve done has been absolutely worth it.”
Right now, Our Custom Song has a contest open through Dec. 15 to win a free Song-Gram, along with a Black Friday sale of 20 percent off all songs that also goes through next Tuesday. You can find out more at ourcustomsong.com or on their Facebook page.